Sunday, 30 November 2008

Tripping the light tram-tastic

This post is for Andrew who leaves me green with envy over his detailed descriptions of tram travel undertaken on the extensive tram system in Melbourne.

Unlike Andrew, I could not say that I caught tram number X, then changed to tram number Y and ended up on tram number Z when I took Sydney's light rail to the Casino today to purchase my new Priscilla tickets.

Once the owner of one of the largest tram systems in the world, Sydney now has the one partially novelty, partially commuter service.

I took the light rail from Capitol Square (at George Street) to Star City where the Casino and the Lyric Theatre are located. I could have travelled for free as the conductor seemed to assume that I was Casino employee and did not seek my fare but being the honest soul I am I summoned him back and paid the $5.70 return fare. Most of the seats were taken on the outbound trip when I boarded and some of the passengers departed at the various Darling Harbour stops.

By coincidence I had the same conductor on the return trip and perhaps he remembered me or else once again assumed I was a Casino employee because again he did not approach me about the fare. I don't know why he would have thought I was an employee as I was dressed in casual shorts and a white T-shirt.

When I returned to George Street, the Christmas Parade was in progress and I caught the very end of it as it was passing by the Sydney Town Hall.

I had thought about using the monorail for the return trip but in the end didn't bother. I am still a monorail virgin having never travelled on it in all the years that it has been operating. My original resistance to using it was ideological as I was aghast at the eyesore spoiling Sydney's CBD when it was constructed. It has been around now for so long that it has become a part of the city and my resistance has dissipated.

See the light

The See the Light T-shirt in the photograph has been specially designed by Chris Cheng and will go on sale from World AIDS Day tomorrow. Thirty per cent of the proceeds from the sale of the shirt will go to the AIDS Trust.

If the model in the photograph is sold with the shirt then sales should go through the roof.

Joern Utzon (1918 - 2008)

Joern Utzon, the Danish Architect, who designed the Sydney Opera House has died in Copenhagen at the age of 90.

Sydney, in particular, and Australia, in general, have much reason to be grateful to Utzon.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Priscilla deserts us...

A couple of months ago Fs, in Canberra, suggested that we go with Bn to see the stage musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert which is currently on its second Sydney season. The first Sydney season was a huge success but none of us had gone to see it and this second season was scheduled to end on 18 January.

For reasons too complex for me to explain the only weekend that suited the three of us was the final weekend. I hasten to explain that I was available virtually every weekend but both the other two were heavily 'booked'. How is it that other people lead such hectic social lives?

Anyway Fs booked tickets for the evening of January 17, the second last performance, which we have been eagerly awaiting. Fs booked flights to Sydney for the weekend and had obtained the theatre and flight tickets.

Then yesterday, I was reading the Daily Telegraph and found deep into the paper a small paragraph stating that Priscilla is closing earlier on December 21, a victim of the financial crisis which has left its January bookings a disaster. I rang the theatre which confirmed the early closure and text Fs who had not heard the news. Fs is being sent a refund for the theatre tickets and with Bn will not be able to see the show before its closure.

My basically free diary allows me to seek an alternate performance but Fs and Bn are both disappointed. For once my lack of social life has worked in my favour, although I would have preferred to see the show with the others.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A piece of Australia

Baz Lurhmann's Australia has opened. Much of it was filmed in the Kimberley District of Western Australia where I visited in August/September.

This is one of my photographs in the region, our wide land brown at the end of the dry season.

(Click to enlarge.)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A performer?

OK. So many other bloggers are doing and posting this that, like a sheep, I am following suit. You enter your URL into Typealyzer and it instantly provides an analysis of your personality based on your blog. I'm sure the whole thing is a scam. From the instant response it is obvious there isn't a team of analysers examining your blog and I imagine you get sent one from a series of pre-set analyses on a random or sequential basis.

This is the analysis I received.

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

Apart from the analysis depicting me as a female, my friends also would not recognise me from most of the description in the first paragraph.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Do you require a bed or are you happy to stand?

I was tempted to ask patients this question today after just about the busiest day I can recall working in Admissions.

Newly admitting patients streamed into the hospital all day today pretty well without a break. Add to that a greater than usual number of 'walk ins' (patients referred directly to us by the Admitting Doctor without prior booking) plus a heavy load of preadmission appointments and it was one of the most tiring days I have experienced at the Hospital.

I joked to one of the staff members that the Hospital might need to install bunk beds to cope with the numbers and then was momentarily taken aback when he appeared to ponder the thought as a serious suggestion.

I also jokingly suggested to the Volunteer Coordinator that she might consider paying me a bonus. I think the Hospital gets good value from my twenty or so hours a week work that costs them nothing more than the $7 a day lunch coupon I receive.

Dear Dorothy Dix #1

The first in what may become an occasional series where I ask readers to answer questions that have me puzzled.

Being a left hander I always find it interesting to see someone performing a task left handed. But I have never seen anyone play a violin left handed. I have come to the conclusion that it may not be possible.

Does anyone play a violin left handed?

Monday, 24 November 2008

Swedish gay commercial

Apparently this is a humorous Swedish gay commercial.

I have no idea what they are saying and therefore can't fully see the humour but the young men look attractive, if nothing else.

Perhaps James can explain?

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Who stole our Spring?

Spring in Sydney is often like Summer without the humidity; blue skies and high temperatures. This Spring has been unusual. The occasional hot day amongst many cool to almost cold days.

This morning is windy, cloudy, rainy and the temperature at 11am just 14c.

We want our Spring back.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig, seeking revenge for the death of his lover in Casino Royale, finds himself in a battle to protect the water supply of Bolivia. The murder and mayhem that surrounds him defies any environmental overtones to this scenario as do the early scenes where historic buildings in Italy crumble as he chases a traitor from roof top to roof top.

The pacing of the film is oddly as regular as a metronome. Every few minutes the film breaks out into a pursuit. Craig pursuing others, others pursuing Craig. Despite being bloodied, dusted and lacerated repeatedly, Craig unfailingly maintains his clothes horse dignity and the better class of bystander who obviously inhabits Europe's streets and hotels remains oblivious to this evidence of unpleasantness.

There is a lot more of Judi Dench in this film and that cannot be a bad thing. Dench shows admirable, if curious, restraint as Craig disobeys orders time and again by killing potential witness after potential witness.

There are no gee whiz gadgets for 007 this time, those being replaced by high tech information wizardry instead.

A highly stylised film, especially in its opening credits and location titles, of the type that can age quickly and may well look ridiculous a few years down the track.

A highlight for me is the scene in Austria played out against the background of a fascinating looking production of Puccini's opera, Tosca. I assume there is such a production in reality and I must keep an eye out for it on the Ovation channel.

The very healthy (in numbers, not appearance) older audience at the 10.15am session I attended suggests that this film, although a little off key when compared with Casino Royale, is doing good box office.

Friday, 21 November 2008

I've been stolen

I received a comment from another blogger to a message I was purported to have placed on her blog. Except that the message was not mine. It linked back to my profile and blog but I did not send it.

Can anyone tell me how that is possible or what I can do to prevent it reoccurring? Is the solution as simple as changing a setting on Blogger?

I have security protection on my PC and hope this incident is not an indication of hacking or whatever.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Nights in Rodanthe

Diane Lane and Richard Gere cross paths in an eccentrically exotic seaside house in North Carolina. Actually that house is more in the sea than by it and looks nothing like the coastal houses I saw in North Carolina in the late 1980s but then what would I know.

If I were into women then Diane Lane is just the woman I would want to be into. I always enjoy seeing her. And from this gay man's point of view she has hit two jackpots. Lane is married to Josh Brolin. This means that she has Barbra Streisand for her mother in law and she gets to sleep at night with Brolin. A gay man's dream twice over.

A bonus for gay viewers is the appearance, briefly, of Christopher Meloni remembered fondly for his impressive personal attributes revealed full frontal in the television prison series, Oz.

Predictably, everyone and everything in Rodanthe is improbably picturesque and the film unfolds as a weepy of the type that had them teary eyed at lights up in the suburban Odeon and Kings Cinemas every Saturday afternoon in the 1950s.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

For rent: maturity and experience

Passing through Oxford Street yesterday after my day at the hospital I noticed a man who pretty obviously was 'on the game' and looking for customers.

Judging by his apparent age, he was less rent boy and more rent gent.

Monday, 17 November 2008


Two Jacaranda trees I photographed in my neighbourhood yesterday with contrasting residences as background.

(Click photos to enlarge.)

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Andre Rieu Oi..Oi..Oi

I paid the supplement to watch Andre Rieu's Melbourne show live on cable television last night. It was considerably cheaper than paying $300 to see the show in person in two weeks time in Sydney at an open arena requiring binoculars and possibly in the rain (the way Sydney's weather has been this Spring).

I am quite ambivalent about Rieu's shows. I admire his showmanship, a type of Barnum and Bailey for waltz and operetta music, but find the lack of spontaneity irritating. The slightest wink and nudge is pre-planned.

The show lasted almost three and a half hours so there was little to fault in the amount of time granted with 'the great one'. It was very similar to the shows screened here from Europe and elsewhere through his ubiquitous DVDs and all the usual personalities were on display.

I had thought Rieu would include some Australian material to humour the Australian audience and was a little surprised that the encores were reached with only Botany Bay sung as a sop to we colonials. This was performed by the blonde Australian soprano bearing the exotic East European name who is a member of the usual ensemble.

But the local touch came to the fore deep into the encores. First came Advance Australia Fair performed as an entertainment rather than the National Anthem into which it has been converted. Then followed a curious selection including the themes from Bananas in Pyjamas and Neighbours both now elevated to semi-classical status by Rieu's imprimatur.

There was an interesting moment earlier when a microphone failed as a soprano commenced her song. During the break that followed whilst a replacement was summoned Rieu, without missing a beat, lead the audience in a rousing rendition of the Aussie..Aussie..Aussie Oi..Oi..Oi 'war cry'.

If nothing else, Rieu certainly does his homework.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Proposition Hate

There are protests planned for today across the United States, as well as some internationally, against California's Proposition 8.

In Australia, a protest is being organised for 12 noon today in Federation Square, Melbourne.

Check Join The Impact for more information.

Friday, 14 November 2008

El Tango De Roxanne

With Baz Lurhmann's new movie Australia about to open I thought I would post this video of my favourite scene from his previous extravaganza, Moulin Rouge.

The tango, the gorgeous male dancers and yummy Ewan McGregor.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

I think they scored

I saw this funny clip taken from MadTV on A Flat with a View.

The two actors are Ike Barinholtz and Josh Meyers.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Would you like a pre-op dear?

I experienced a 'full moon' type morning at the hospital yesterday as one eccentric patient after another appeared at the desk. It was as though they had lined up to torment me in turn.

I reported this to my coordinator over lunch enjoying a good laugh as the other volunteers present joined in with their own 'full moon' patient experiences. Then the coordinator trumped us all with an experience of her own.

When working in another area, the coordinator was called to a ward by nurses seeking her resolution of a problem with a patient. She arrived to find a female patient being prepared for her medical procedure and an agitated husband by her side. He wanted to have sex with his wife in the hospital bed before she was wheeled off to theatre and was incensed that the nurses were telling him this was not acceptable.

I'm afraid none of us could top that experience.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


This film relates action taken in 1981 by IRA prisoners in the Maze Prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to be recognised as political, rather than criminal, prisoners. Led by Bobby Sands, the prisoners refuse to wear prison uniform nor wash themselves and eventually undertake a hunger strike leading to the deaths of Sands and nine others.

It is a very striking film. Apart from a single 20 minutes scene between Sands and a priest, the remainder of the film is largely without dialogue. Director Steve McQueen unleashes extraordinary images powerfully conveying the abuse and the lack of dignity that befalls not just the prisoners but their captors as well.

Michael Fassbender plays Sands in a riveting performance. His conversation scene with Liam Cunningham's priest where we learn just what made Sands the man that he became is superb.

A difficult but memorable film.

Monday, 10 November 2008

The Pig Iron People

Tonight I saw the Sydney Theatre Company's production of John Doyle's play.

Based on people he has observed from his past, the play centres around characters, neighbours in a suburban street, steeped in the Menzies (1950s/1960s) era faced with the generational change of the 1990s. Drawing on humour of the music and advertising from those days, the play also has its dark and poignant moments as it delves into the characters' backgrounds.

The staging and lighting design were brilliant. A bare backdrop on which is projected a realistic image of a 1950s suburban street came to life in a most impressive fashion.

I think it is quite an ambitious work. I enjoyed much of its humour and yet was baffled at moments. What to make, for example, of a German dressed as a cricket umpire singing "Thank Heaven For Little Girls"?

Despite my bafflement it was a most interesting and enjoyable evening and the play was extremely well received by the capacity audience.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Three brothers living in Newcastle, the middle one a budding surfer, the oldest brother a former surf champion and the youngest brother, gay, and an outsider. Not much plot, lots of swearing, lots of time spent in the water, some masturbation and sex and the young guys go skinny dipping at every opportunity.

This film seems aimed at mid to late teens, indeed most of the audience I saw it with yesterday was in that age group. Certainly the screenplay sounded juvenile to me but it probably hit home to the rest of the audience who were attentive.

Not much else to say.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

For whom the well tolls

I've received an invitation to the wedding of a friend's daughter. Well, this gay man has not attended a wedding, straight or otherwise, in more than ten years and I am not up on wedding trends. So I was bemused to read in the invitation, "if you would like to give a gift, a wishing well will be available at the reception". A wishing well? What the fuck is that, in the context of a wedding?

My first reaction was to ring my friend and ask him but then I thought I would try the Google method. Sure enough, the simple enquiry - wedding wishing wells - brings up more than 400,000 listings. I was astonished.

Anyway, it turns out that the couple who already have everything except marriage can ask you to give them cash at their wedding instead of multiple toasters, ironing boards and the like so that they can then spend that money how they wish. The photo above was in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2006 on the day the couple pictured were to be married and their well is shown to illustrate an article explaining this phenomenon.

I suppose this is not too different from those cultures where bank notes are pinned to the bride's gown. Still, it seems a little strange to me. Do gay weddings have wishing wells?

Sometimes I am quite relieved that I am not straight. They have such strange practices.

Friday, 7 November 2008

My Fair Lady

My bridge partner, Ce, talked me into seeing the revival of My Fair Lady by Opera Australia. Ce had seen it last week and couldn't stop talking about it all the way to and from bridge that night and she has already booked to see it again next week.

The last and only time I previously saw MFL on stage was when it was first staged in Australia around 1960. Those were the days when theatrical producers J C Williamson thought that only imported artists would be acceptable to Australian audiences for its major productions and so they brought Stuart Wagstaff and Bunty Turner from Britain to play Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. Wagstaff, who must be about 197 years old now, has become a cultural icon of sorts wheeled out for celebrity funerals and the like. Turner, I think, is living in blissful retirement as a Mrs Bloggs somewhere on the Australian coast.

I have never forgotten attending that performance. It was New Years Eve and at the end of the evening, the cast got the entire audience to stand, link hands and sing Auld Lang Syne. It was enough to have a 10 years old gay boy red with embarrassment and I imagine it set back my emotional development by about a decade.

Contemporary musicals seem not to require singable tunes and memorable melodies. They make do with gee whizzery in stagecraft and lots of noise and action. There are no phantoms or wizards in sight in MFL and on my way to theatre last night I pondered whether it would all seem too static and dated.

Somethings don't change a lot and we again have an imported lead in the form of Richard E Grant playing Higgins, although the remainder of the cast appears to be local. Interestingly, the two best performances last night came from veteran Aussies Nancye Hayes and John Wood.

To my delight, the production was excellent and particularly pleasing to the eye and ear. A capacity audience clearly loved it and the acclaim at performance end was strong. That's not to say that it was perfect. Grant has a somewhat gentle manner that occasionally betrays his Higgins although I thought he gave a grand performance nonetheless. Our Doolittle was slightly more worrying to me as I felt right from the start there was something wrong with her cockney accent. It took about forty minutes to dawn on me that she sounded more Birmingham than London at times. A pity because otherwise she was pretty good.

I wonder whether the New Years Eve performance this year will be attended by a gay youth developing his taste in the theatre?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


When purchasing our tickets for this I mistakenly asked for Rockefeller so my brain was not completely switched on in this film.

Tom Wilkinson is a crime boss engaged by a Russian businessman to use his 'contacts' to get a development approved at council. A host of other criminal and criminally inclined types cross paths as 'arrangements' and 'understandings' go off the rails.

The plot involves a whole host of characters whose activities interconnect. A search for an unidentified villain ensues and towards the end most of the characters assemble and the villain is revealed. Does this sound familiar? It is the classic formula Agatha Christie used in her whodunnit books.

Guy Ritchie applies the formula to the London crime scene dressed up with lots of noise, dollops of violence and rock and roll music. I quite enjoyed it all, once the confusion of the initial set up was passed and it was good to see a gay crim character amongst the mix. Ritchie does these London crime themes with style.

Obama wins

Yes, he did!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

I hope this favourite wins

OK, our big race is over, now it's time for that more important one in the US.

I hope for the sake of us all that Barack Obama wins. It's in the hands of the American voters.

Yes, they can.

What a finish

A fantastic finish to watch, even for non racing types like me, as Viewed holds on to win the Melbourne Cup by the narrowest of margins from the fast finishing Bauer with C'est La Guerre (one of three horses I drew in a sweep) in third place.

A double pleasure for me with the exciting finish and picking up a placing for the first time in many years.

"...and Beetle Bomb"

The first Tuesday in November may be special in the United States every four years but it stops Australia every year.

The Melbourne Cup, a horse race over 3200m (approx 2 miles), brings Australia to a halt at 3pm on this day. An obscene amount of money is gambled on this race much of it by Australians like myself who have no interest or knowledge in the sport otherwise and who never bet on horse races at any other time.

One certainty is that the winner will not be Spike Jones riding Beetle Bomb.

That's a joke for the old timers.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Undies Monday

Blogger Breenlantern has decreed that Mondays will be Undies Monday so in accordance with his decree this is a photo of me in mine.

I have a feeling that my participation in this theme starts and finishes today given how awful I look and more significantly that all my undies are the same style white Calvin Klein trunks.


Sam Rockwell, a sex addict and scammer, cares for his mother, Anjelica Huston who is afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease. They have a close relationship following years of scamming and keeping one step ahead of detection. But Huston no longer recognises her son and Rockwell is desperate to learn the secret of his paternity. He develops a relationship with Kelly McDonald who he meets at the institution where his mother resides.

Not exactly a movie for faint hearts. The film is packed with scenes of sexual activity, women's breasts, the confronting behaviour of demented women and people choking on their food. There is some humour, principally in relation to Rockwell's workplace, a colonial American theme park, where the workers are expected to behave and speak according to colonial times.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


(Click photo to enlarge.)

I don't know why but these three planes were doing tight flights circling Sydney Harbour yesterday afternoon. This photo taken from the balcony of my apartment.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

"You know me, don't you?"

Last night I accompanied Ae to her volunteer organisation's annual cocktail party. It was a sweltering evening with the temperature still at 34c when we arrived at 6pm.

It was an odd affair. We arrived to a keyboard player serenading us in the lobby (not so unusual) and then were shepherded into the function room which had been set up as an auditorium where for the next hour we sat through a type of annual meeting complete with guest speaker and website demonstration. Ae, a primary school teacher no less, constantly whispered loud asides to me during the meeting ("what a poor speaker" and "a terrible presenter" etc) in behaviour I am sure she wouldn't tolerate in her own classroom. I had to admit, though, that the keynote speaker was not very good. The topic of the keynote speech was "Changing Times" which the speaker addressed with examples of what hadn't changed over time.

At the end of that meeting we received a gift package (a copy of the annual review and a pen!) and then were marshalled back into the foyer for an hour of drinks and nibblies (ahhh, finally a cocktail party). The sparkling wine must have gone to Ae's head quickly for she introduced me multiple times to other guests. "You know Victor, don't you", Ae asked one unfortunate woman four times over drinks.

As we drove away, we soaked in the benefits of a southerly change that had arrived in the two hours we were at the party dropping the temperature to about 15c.